03/01: Lab-Safe SARS-CoV-2 Developed for Research

Safety concerns are a major obstacle for research on the coronavirus. Due to the threat it poses, SARS-CoV-2 may only be cultured in facilities that are deemed to be biosafety level-3 (BSL-3). Researchers from University of Texas Galveston and from Washington University have created a system that may provide laboratories with a way to sidestep the challenge posed by safety restrictions. They have developed single-round infectious SARS-CoV-2 virions. This form of the virus only infects cells once, making it significantly safer to handle. Their research shows that these virions are safe enough to be used in biosafety level-2 facilities, which means more laboratories can generate SARS-CoV-2 research. While the genes of SARS-CoV-2 were manipulated somewhat to create these single-round infection virions, in essentially all other aspects this form of the virus replicates authentic SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, these virions can be instrumental for research that evaluates vaccines, antiviral screening, and tests for SARS-CoV-2.